On the Town
But last year was, of course, Frank Sinatra's centennial, and, before we finally close the book on 2015, here for the New Year holiday weekend is one last episode of The Song Is You. In this ancillary series to our Sinatra Songs of the Week, composers and lyricists tell the stories behind some of the great standards Sinatra sang.
This episode features songs by a trio of great composers: Burton Lane is the writer of such standards as "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever"; Jerry Herman has given us Broadway blockbusters like Mame and La Cage aux Folles; and Cy Coleman was a force in pop, jazz, film and theatre for half-a-century. Herman talks about getting chart hits from show scores, Coleman recalls the song he wrote in the tempo of Cary Grant's walk, and Lane explains why he likes a Gershwin tune - how about you?
Along the way we hear a lot of big songs, including "Witchcraft", "The Best Is Yet To Come", "Hello, Dolly!" and a brace of classics from Songs for Swingin' Lovers - "How About You?" and "Old Devil Moon" - plus one of the wackiest numbers Frank ever recorded: "I'll Take Tallulah." These recordings span all stages of Sinatra's career, from the Tommy Dorsey days through Columbia, Capitol and Reprise, with appearances by Jo Stafford, Ella Logan, the Pied Pipers and the Count Basie band, and arrangements by Paul Weston, Sy Oliver, Axel Stordahl, Percy Faith, Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Quincy Jones.
Click above to listen.
We hope you've enjoyed our Sinatra centennial observances these last twelve months. Don't forget our Song of the Week returns to its regular schedule, late on Sunday night, January 3rd.
And if you've missed one of our previous editions...
In Episode One of The Song Is You, Mitchell Parish, Phil Springer, and Betty Comden and Adolph Green talk about songs such as "Stardust", "Sweet Lorraine", "How Little We Know", "New York, New York" and "Lonely Town".
In Episode Two, we hear from Irving Caesar, Ann Ronell and Alan Jay Lerner about "Almost Like Being In Love", "I Could Have Danced All Night", "On A Clear Day", "Tea For Two" and "Willow, Weep For Me".
In Episode Three, I talk to Alan Bergman, one half of the great writing team of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, whose songs include "Windmills of Your Mind", "The Way We Were" and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers". But, long before their big movie numbers, Alan and Marilyn were young, unknown writers in Los Angeles who nevertheless managed to get Sinatra to record a handful of their songs, including "Nice 'n' Easy" and the swingin' nursery rhyme "Ol' MacDonald".
In Episode Four, we celebrate half-a-century of Sinatra Christmas recordings, and enjoy a few moments with Hugh Martin, composer of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", Sammy Cahn, lyricist of "The Christmas Waltz", and the daughter of Irving Berlin, who gave us "White Christmas".
In Episode Five, Jule Styne talks about his early days as Frank's house composer in the early Forties, Susan Birkenhead takes us through the genesis of Sinatra's last great saloon song, and we end with a certain blockbuster New York song by Kander & Ebb, with a word from Liza Minnelli.
~For a century's worth of Sinatra songs see here. For Mark's podcast with longtime Sinatra conductor Vincent Falcone, you can find Part One here and Part Two here. For Steyn's take on Sinatra at the movies see here. And Mark's original 1998 obituary of Frank, "The Voice", can be found in the anthology Mark Steyn From Head To Toe, while you can read the stories behind many other Sinatra songs in Mark Steyn's American Songbook. Personally autographed copies of both books are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore.
from On the Town, January 1, 2016
Composers and lyricists tell the stories behind the songs Sinatra sang
50 years of Sinatra Christmas classics
Alan Bergman, co-author of such songs as "Windmills of Your Mind", "The Way We Were" and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers", talks to Mark about the songs he wrote for Sinatra...
Mark talks to the songwriters of "Tea For Two", "Almost Like Being In Love", "On A Clear Day" and "Willow, Weep For Me"
Part Two of Mark's audio special with Frank Sinatra's longtime pianist and conductor Vincent Falcone Jr.
Part one of Mark's conversation with the man who played piano and conducted for Sinatra during the Seventies and Eighties: Vincent Falcone
The first of a new audio series with Mark in conversation with great songwriters
Yes, it's Steyn's night of horror. No, not his flight on United. That was just the warm-up.
Following his spooky interpretation of a 1970s rock classic for last Halloween, Mark thought he'd try something even scarier for this All-Hallows Eve. He's always wanted to do one of those 1980s rock videos - moody, menacing, monochrome, full of smoke and guitars. So click below and stand well back:
With a tip of the hat to Tweety, Sylvester ...and Sting.
For the backstory, see here.
For more, see here.
An encore presentation of Mark's audio salute to James Bond's music man, John Barry
For this Father's Day weekend, I thought we'd enjoy a word from Jack Lemmon. Not because he's my dad, but because a quarter-century of Father's Days ago, I spent a little bit of time with him...
The Avengers: Age of Ultron has opened, heralding the start of yet another superhero summer at the multiplex. Rick McGinnis writes about the age of the comic-book movie here, and I've expressed my disquiet about the damage to heroism that comes when you prefix it with "super-". But they're all that's keeping the big studios in business these days, and the new Avengers movie is likely to be one of the biggest-grossing of all time. Captain America, the Mighty Thor, Iron-Man... They're bringing in ...
Steyn marks the centenary of a great singer, born one hundred years ago today in Philadelphia
Happy Easter and Happy Passover to our readers around the world. We moved our Saturday movie night to Good Friday for Mel Gibson's blockbuster The Passion Of The Christ. So, for the weekend proper, here's a special podcast, audiophonically adapted from an essay that appears in Mark's book A Song For The Season. Mark traces the story of Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade", from its obscure origins as a First World War morale booster to its re-emergence a generation later as the American Songbook's ...
2015 is Frank Sinatra's centenary year, which necessitates a few modifications to SteynOnline's music, film and entertainment coverage. Our official observances commence tomorrow when our Song of the Week department becomes a Song of the Semi-Week in order to squeeze in 100 Sinatra songs of the century between now and December. Several other folk seem to have opted for this approach, too - our old friend the Pundette has launched a dedicated Sinatra Centenary site for that very purpose - so we ...
Steyn marks the centenary of screen siren and spread-spectrum siren Hedy Lamarr
Cole Porter died fifty years ago this week - October 15th 1964, in Santa Monica...
This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, the conflict that gave us the modern world - Communist Russia, the post-Ottoman Middle East, Europe's loss of civilizational confidence. The catalyst for war was the assassination of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, which Mark noted here a month ago. In the weeks ahead, we'll be looking at some of World War One's cultural legacy, for good or ill. As a curtain-raiser, here's an encore presentation of a SteynOnline audio special, celebrating the British Tommies' favourite ballad of the war years, "If You Were The Only Girl In The World", and its composer Nat D Ayer.
Ayer was a two-hit wonder, with an ocean between them: "If You Were The Only Girl" was his British hit; his American hit from five years earlier was known to generations of Looney Tunes viewers for most of the next century - "Oh, You Beautiful Doll". This special podcast was first broadcast to mark the 100th birthday of "Beautiful Doll" in 2011...
Mark talks to Kander & Ebb, writers of Cabaret and Chicago - and recalls his own small place in their oeuvre
...but whatever happened to non-super heroes?
The last of the Mamas and Papas when all the leaves are brown...
A SteynOnline audio special to mark the 60th birthday of The Pajama Game
No sooner do we release the new eBook of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade than readers start bombarding me with demands to know where the audio book is. Well, here's the nearest to an audio excerpt from the book - a salute to Artie Shaw...
Mark's centenary salute to Budd Schulberg, the Hollywood survivor who wrote What Makes Sammy Run?, On The Waterfront and Face In The Crowd...
In lieu of our usual Song of the Week, we present a SteynOnline audio special: Mark talks to singer-songwriter Paul Simon - including a tour of Simon's boyhood neighborhood and a live performance of his very first song
In Part Two of our audio special, Paul Simon talks to Mark about songwriting, demonstrates the original ska version of "Mother And Child Reunion", and muses on the alleged homosexual subtext of "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard"
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